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Most women know far more about pregnancy and childbirth than they do about miscarriage. It's still considered something of a taboo topic, which can make it a silent burden to bear if you've experienced one. I had three, but my story has a happy ending: I have two healthy children after a lot of physical and emotional pain. Here are a few things you may not have realized about miscarriages:
When I had my first miscarriage, I just assumed something
was wrong with me. I was newly married, hadn't been trying to get pregnant
and knew very little about the process. It was only after my second
miscarriage that I learned many women have experienced one or more
miscarriages. In fact, national statistics say that among women who know they are pregnant, 15 to 20 out of 100
pregnancies will end in miscarriage. This may not be comforting if you've had a
miscarriage or are currently experiencing the symptoms of one, but if you are,
you are not alone. I was surprised at how little is written about miscarriage,
and even more shocked at how many of my friends had experienced miscarriages I
never knew about.
2. Having one or more miscarriages does not mean you will
not have a successful pregnancy in the future.
I had three miscarriages in a span of 18 years before I
carried a pregnancy to term and had a big, healthy baby boy. There was no way
to be sure what caused my first trimester miscarriages, so it was hard for me
to let myself feel the joy of my ultimately successful pregnancies after having
experienced three losses. It's important to speak to your doctor regarding your
health and fertility and be diligent in your prenatal care, but know that in most
cases, a miscarriage doesn't mean your next pregnancy won't be successful.
3. There is probably nothing you can do to prevent a
miscarriage in the first trimester.
It is an awful, helpless feeling to be told there is nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage once it has begun and I have no words of wisdom except to say you are not alone.
Because the reason for the loss is often a chromosomal
abnormality of the embryo, first trimester miscarriages are often inevitable. It's
important to know that, because second guessing will drive you mad (I went to
an amusement park and rode roller coasters when I was 6 weeks pregnant—believe
me, I know about second guessing). In my case, trips to the doctor and ER when
the bleeding and cramping started were met with recommendations of bed rest,
though one very honest ER doctor told me, "That won't prevent it if it's going
to happen, but you need the rest." It is an awful, helpless feeling to be told
there is nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage once it has begun and I
have no words of wisdom except to say you are not alone.
4. If you've had previous miscarriages, or are over 35, a
progesterone supplement may decrease your chances of having a miscarriage.
When I found myself pregnant at 41 after a third miscarriage
seven months earlier, I found a new ob/gyn and discussed my concerns regarding
my fertility. He immediately prescribed progesterone for my first trimester,
saying that my advanced maternal age and previous first-term miscarriages
indicated it might be beneficial. There is some controversy over the
effectiveness of progesterone to prevent miscarriage,
but in my case it might have been what allowed me to carry my sons to term. If
you are over 35 and have had previous miscarriages, ask your doctor about
taking a progesterone supplement.
5. Miscarriage is not only a physical experience, it's
also emotional and very personal.
The hormonal shifts that come with pregnancy can linger for four to six weeks after a miscarriage. For me, I carried the side effects of my
miscarriages with me long after the bleeding and cramps stopped. Everywhere I
looked, I saw pregnant women and babies. Few people were aware of my grief. A
first trimester miscarriage meant I never wore maternity clothes or showed the
physical signs of pregnancy, so I still appeared the same after the
miscarriage. And yet, I'd experienced a profound loss. My doctor recommended a three- to six-month wait time before trying to conceive again to allow my body to heal, but
there is no designated wait time for allowing your heart time to grieve. It's
important to recognize the toll that miscarriage can take, and the fears and
doubts that linger long after the physical symptoms have subsided.